You're Vietnamese And You Can Read Poker Faces

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sure. Obviously. I mean, not all Vietnamese people can read the poker face, but it is an interesting subject to delve into - and one which Andrew Lam takes a stab at in a New American Media blog post:

As a Vietnamese American writer who often addresses East-west relations, I have been asked over and over again: Why are Vietnamese so good at poker? Why indeed when many didn’t really play poker in Vietnam? I can’t claim to have a definitive answer but here’s something to think about: Vietnamese love gambling, and culturally it is not frowned upon. In fact, gambling is part of recreation for many who labored in the fields.

Tet, the new year celebration, is the time when everyone gambles. My fondest memories of my Vietnamese childhood is of my mother’s clan gathering in the back of our grandparent’s villa in Saigon and play Sauter La Banque, and i was six and won lots of cash from this hat (if you lose, you have to match all the money in the hat)... To Jump the bank= to bet all.. quite exciting for a 6 years old.

It was very fun with everyone – young and old -with the young, mostly kids, using their new money given to them by their elders to try to win everyon’e else’s money. The winner often then take the losers to lunch : > to cheer them up.

Children develop a keen sense of game playing and are condoned by their parents, and are often guided by their elders on how to play a better game. In fact, I spent many a summer nights with my siblings and parents playing another game called Tu Xac – same characters as in Chinese Chess – but using cards instead. My father often won and he would never give us back our money no matter how much we chldren pouted.
All I know is this - if someone could teach me to read a slot machine, then I would be in business.